Fornessi Carry Me Wrap Review

I use baby carriers with Babi a lot, sometimes even at home to calm her down (teething…) or help her to take a nap. It also played an important role in establishing breast feeding in the first few weeks.

It’s good to keep more than one, just in case, or for different tasks. I have never tried less constructed baby carriers before, so I was very exciting when our new Fornessi Carry Me Wrap arrived. The lovely Angelika Cullen is the mumtrepeneur behind the brand and she’s a fellow eco-warrior. Knowing that a product is eco-friendly, was a big plus for me. The Carry Me wrap is designed to have only a minimal impact on the environment: it’s biodegradable (so as its stylish storage bag), coloured with non-toxic ink, and doesn’t contain solvents.

I chose a brilliant pink colour for my little girl. The feel of the fabric is super soft and silky, with great elasticity. Putting it into use was very easy, even for a wrap-newbie like me (with the help of Fornessi’s Video Tutorials). Babi is quite a little wriggler, so after fastening it around my body, I sat down to wrap my baby. This method worked the best for us. The wrap is long enough to fit it around any body shape.

My baby girl fell almost instantly asleep when I wrapped her in, which is a good indicator how comfy and safe the wrap is. She snuggled in, and absolutely loved it. So did I. We tested the wrap out on a walk and at home, just doing stuff.

In case you haven’t heard about the advantages of baby wearing, here’s just a few reasons to give it a try:

  • For all the sceptics out there, baby wearing is not a neo-hippie thing: humans are using baby wraps for thousands of years.
  • Especially in the first few months of their little life, it helps bonding, calming and feeling secure.
  • The closeness raises mum’s oxytocin level, which is beneficial for breast milk production and helps to fight off PPD.
  • An easy and handy option for transporting the baby.

 

I’ve been sent this baby wrap to review and share my unbiased opinion about it. I absolutely loved it and wholeheartedly recommend Fornessi’s Carry Me wrap for mums to buy.

Why Holiday Prices Are Higher During School Holidays?

I’m now trying to reflect on Kate’s Post I’ve read the other day from a hoteliers’ point of view.

School holidays can be a nightmare to manage. In families, where both parents work, one of them HAS to take days off, unless you have other baby sitting solutions arranged. So now that you’ve got the kids for a whole week, realise that almost all your regular soft plays and drop in classes are closed for half term. (Why?!)

I completely understand and now I’m even in the same shoes as Kate and other fellow parents: booking a holiday in half term or in summer can get very expensive. Not only that, but it’s hard to find decent family friendly places, which are not rammed or booked out.

I realise, that the doubled or even tripled rates seem like that the whole travel industry tries to take advantage of school holidays. However, you can’t enforce “fairer” prices by calling for government action. It would be an economical disaster for the whole industry.

I’ve worked for a number of hotels throughout my career (before having children). Started as a receptionist, then switched to sales and operation. Lately, responsible for the revenue. My role was basically to set the rates according to the budget. I’ve dealt with the contracts for travel agencies and online booking sites and set the daily, seasonal and packaged rates for the rooms.

Most hotels and travel providers work with seasonal rates. They depend depending on the actual seasons, and some other highlighted periods of the year, like winter months in the Alps, the Chelsea Flower Show in London, the Carnival in Rio, or the Australian Open in Melbourne. Another factor in hotel pricing is the top ranking sending countries or nations. People tend to travel during long weekends, national holidays or indeed, school holidays.

Now, like every company, travel businesses too, depend on the demand and it will have a direct effect on the price. When not so much people want to travel, prices will drop. When not enough rooms are booked, price will drop. Other times, when the demand is high, the prices will rise too. The fluctuating prices allow the hotel or airline to meet with their budgeted revenue requirements and produce profit. When you urgently need a shirt – you go and buy it on full price. When not, then you wait until it’s (at a predictable time, like after Christmas) is on sale. 

Hotels can never charge you more for a room as their rack rate for that particular room. But then you buy often buy your holiday in a package (directly from the hotel or booking with a travel agency) so you never actually see the price breakdown. When it seams, that the price has been doubled or more, that is actually correct. It did so. Low season means prices barely make a break even, and high season means selling on rack rates. The difference can be even 4x or 5x of the low season’s rate.

A hotel operating successfully can pay better wages, can hire more and better trained staff, provide valuable training for their staff. Hotels also employ mostly local people, so they play a key role in creating jobs for the local communities. If you want to see really bad examples of a holiday destination managed badly and local communities suffering because of it, take a good look at the Isle Of Wight. It used to be a famous holiday island. Now almost all the hotels are for sale, because they went or near bankrupt. A fantastically beautiful island with lots of potential. Heartbreaking. Why? Because in summertime everyone flies to classic holiday destinations. So the island misses out on that crowd. Prices are also high in summer, because they naturally try to make their whole year’s profit. Because no one goes there in autumn or winter. Some people might do, like we did it as a couple, and enjoyed the walks on the beautiful, empty beaches. But now we can’t, because we can only travel during the school holiday, and that’s for the years to come!

As I said I’m equally effected by the soaring holiday rates at half term and in August. However, having some time spent on the other side as a hotelier, I can tell you: the problem doesn’t lie with the travel industry, as I tried to explain this above.

I can see the solution in schools given more flexibility to allow family holidays during term time, provided that there is no general issue with a children’s attendance. Brighton and Hove is leading the way: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-36806773 but I think there’s more can be done!

One Messy Mama

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10 Ways I’m #RockingMotherhood

When Susie from This Is Me Now  tagged me with the #RockingMotherhood tag to take part in this lovely challenge, I got a little nervous at first. I immediately loved the idea, but, really, am I rocking this motherhood thing?

Patricia from White Camellias had this wonderful idea to celebrate our achievements as mamas, the way we see them and take a little time to think about the answers.

Sorry, I thought, it mostly feels like I’m just winging it. But when I sat down to prepare my list and made the inevitable comparison to other supermothers I know, it came to me, that all of us are rocking it. We might be all so different, but we all do our best. It was lovely to read the lists from everyone in the mummy blogger tribe.

And I never say no to a fun little list making, of course. So here’s my 10 ways I’m #RockingMotherhood.

  1. I managed to overcome my fears over not being able to breastfeed. My first child was bottle fed and we combined expressed breast milk with formula top ups. He never latched properly. When my baby girl refused to breastfeed for the first whole week, I panicked. Somehow though, refusing to listen to anyone this time, I just kept trying to feed her. And she did latch after a week. I weaned her off the formula after just 10 days, and ever since she’s breastfeeding well. Whoever went through this or similar, understands why is this my number 1 achievement.
  2. I became an expert on late talking issues. My boy only started to talk when he turned two, and he was late with some other cognitive skills too, like pointing, asking for help, etc. However, I went to see all the local experts, seeked help, read countless articles and books and we eventually figured a way out how to help him to progress. He’s still behind at nearly 3, but developing a lot faster these days.
  3. He’s now being evaluated and completing the last check ups for ASD. He might, or might not be on the spectrum, doctors are now trying to find the answer. If he is, I’m completely and perfectly OK with that. I’m not at the slightest upset about it. He’s the best. He’s just a bit different.
  4. He’s also very kind, cuddly and loving. He never hurts others intentionally, which makes me very proud. He’s quite easy going and I hope I’ve got something to do with this.
  5. He’s very adaptive and cool with changes. We travel a lot, so from early he was exposed to new places and sudden changes in his routine. We also actively seek to do something new and fun every weekend as a family.
  6. Although, he’s extremely picky and has some sensory issues, I manage to provide him with a healthy diet. It takes lots of planning and trying different tricks, like how to hide meat, fish, greens and fruits in a preferably pasta or pizza looking meal.
  7. Despite of my belief (or the lack of it, that is) I get up every second Sunday and take them to church. We live in a suburban area and the number of school places are limited. We have to do everything to get them into the best school, which happens to be a church school. So, we waste an hour or two every Sunday morning but they’ll get good education. Deal, I say.
  8. I consciously cherish every moment with my baby girl. I felt so overwhelmed with my first child, probably went through a slight PND too, I hardly remember anything from the first few months. This time is the last time, we don’t want more children, so I’m trying to be in the present. Make the most of it, they are growing up so fast!
  9. We do go out. Without the kids. Not just on occasions, but fortnightly. Sometimes it’s an effort because we’re both tired and sometimes we just can’t wait for the date night. We always have fun in the end, and it always feels like the way we were before the kids. It’s kind of a reassurance, that although being a parent added extra layers to our personality (I don’t want to use the word “change”) we’re both the same person the other fell in love with.
  10. And coffee mornings, play dates and girls night outs. Well, alright, mums night outs. I’m lucky because I’m surrounded by the most amazing local mum friends.

Now I need to nominate 3 other awesome mamas to do the same, count your blessings and find your 10 favourite reasons you’re rocking motherhood:

Jenna at The Minimalist Doula

Kate & Sharon at LesBeMums

Shaney at IMummyBlog

Looking forward to read your #RockingMotherhood moments!

 

Vegan And Raw Mini Energy Bars

We all know, just how bad refined sugar is for us. If you ever tried to cut down on your sugar intake, you know how hard it can be. Low-sugar and “sugar-free” substitutes are not healthy either (and they taste terrible).

Dried fruits are great to satisfy your sugar craving. They are full of fibre, and antioxidants (especially figs and prunes), and they taste divine. However, it’s easy to overeat them and they contain the same (naturally occurring) sugar as the fresh fruit itself, but concentrated. Use them as a natural sweetener.

These raw mini energy bars also contain nuts and puffed brown rice, which make them more fulfilling and also healthier. I added some organic baobab powder for extra calcium, potassium and vitamin C.

They require no bake, it’s ridiculously easy to prepare them and even small kids will love it (my 3-year-old chief taster did so). They keep for a few days in the fridge (I think they are even nicer when chilled). This recipe will give you about 12-14 mini bars. Drizzling them with melted dark chocolate is optional (but it makes them look just heavenly).

Ingredients:

10-12 dried and pitted dates

6-7 dried figs

4-5 prunes

100g ground almond

3 handfuls of puffed brown rice

1 handful of dried cranberries

1 handful of pumpkin seeds

1 handful of sesame seeds

2 tsp of Organic Baobab Powder from Pandavita (find a discount code at the bottom of this page)

80g good quality, at least 70% dark vegan chocolate

Method:

In the food processor whizz the dates, the figs and the prunes for a minute or two, until they start to form a little ball. Don’t blend them down completely, you don’t want a paste. Let them keep some texture. Add the ground almonds and the baobab powder and mix them well. The mixture should be sticky enough to take the puffed rice, the cranberries and the seeds. Your target is a dough-like mix. Form a 5-6 cm wide loaf and cut it into 10-12 small bars. Melt the chocolate and drizzle it over the bars. Enjoy. Try to resist eating them up all at once 🙂

I have received the Organic Baobab Powder from Pandavita for my unbiased review of their product, which is absolutely great. I am very pleased with the quality and taste of the powder. If you want to purchase it, please head over to Pandavita.com and use the code BOBCAT15 to receive 15% discount on your order.

Valentine’s Giveaway: Win A Trader Joe’s Gift Bundle

I fall for Trader Joe’s products – I love the concept of the stores: lots of environmentally friendly, organic, ethical and vegetarian products.

So I decided, since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, let’s celebrate love with a super duper giveaway: a perfect pampering gift set for you and your special someone.

The bundle consist of:

A trio of Pacific Ocean and Dead Sea sea salt exfoliating body scrub jars, each 250g (ylang ylang, apricot – honey and eucalyptus-pomegranate). They are a luxurious mix of sea salt and a variety of high-quality oils. Rich in minerals and free of artificial dyes, phthalates, sulfates, and parabens. Not tested on animals.

AND

Clean Up Your Act Grooming Kit for men. The kit’s components are made using quality ingredients including keratin, argan oil, shea butter, aloe vera, and coconut oil. Again: not tested on animals.

One winner will receive the bundle, enter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

This competition will open on 31st of January at 12:00am and will close on 7th of February at 12.00am.
One winner will be selected at random.
UK entrants only.
No cash alternative will be offered.
The winners will be announced on Captainbobcat.com social media outlets and will be contacted by email.
The winners will have 28 days to respond to their winner’s email.

 

 

One Messy Mama

”U

 

Skinny And Vegan Mediterranean Vegetable Soup With Pearl Barely 

You know the type of craving, when it’s cold and gloomy outside and you’re dying for a hot, satisfying soup. But you suddenly realise that you have nothing at home for anything “classic”. Then, you start to search through the fridge and the cupboard for possible ingredients. I quite enjoy this actually, letting your tastebuds and nose to take you for an imaginative drive. This soup is the outcome of this kind of kitchen tour. I’m so pleased with it, that I thought I have to share it with you. It’s lovely and hearty, but healthy at the same time. If you wish, you can add some grated Parmesan or vegan hard cheese on the top when serving. Takes about an hour to prepare it and serves at least 6 people.


Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion chopped

1 courgette, sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

100g butternut squash, cubed

400g canned cannellini beans, drained

2 sticks of celery, sliced

150g pearl barley, cooked

1,5 l vegatable stock

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp of dried basil

1 tsp of dried sage

1/2 tsp of dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Handful of  Super Sprouts and slice of toast to serve (optional)

Method:

First, cook the pearl barley. Put it in a pan, cover it with water, bring it to boil, add a pinch of salt. Cover it with a lid, and cook it for about 40-45 minutes on low heat, until it’s al dente.

Chop all the veggies and in a big pot, fry them with the spices until they begin to soften, 10-15 minutes. Stir it occasionally. Add the stock, turn the heat to low, and cook it for 30 minutes. Add the beans and cook it for another 10 minutes.

You can also add a bit of a chilli, for a little kick.


My 5 Best Buys For My Second Baby

It’s probably quite a cliche, but also quite true: the second time you’re more relaxed and more experienced. You know what to expect. Until you realise, that your second child is completely different, even as a baby. There are some things, of course, which you try to do differently anyway, having learnt your lessons already. Like not buying all available cute baby products, just because they’re irresistible. Your second child, for example, won’t get 5 pairs of adorable baby shoes (all red) in their first year of life – because they don’t need them anyway until they start to walk. (It’s better for them to master their walking skills on barefoot.) On the other hand, you will surely buy the products again, which are worked for you for the first time.

So my list of 5 best buys for my baby girl relies on the combined experience with both children. All tested by me, this is my absolutely unbiased opinion on what to invest in, when a new bundle of joy is on the way.

1.  Ergo Baby Original Carrier With Infant Insert

Second time around, I have to babywear. Bobcat is still not reliable when it comes to walking and needs a lot of encouragement to keep walking into the right direction. So I need him to be contained in the pram. For pushing the pram, I need my both hands to be free. We also walk quite a lot: I normally do nursery drop offs and we walk. Partially, because Babi hates car seats. Also because she naps in the carrier when we’re out and about. In fact, I often use it at home too at nap time, because she’s a very light sleeper and her big brother keeps waking her up, by being noisy. But in the carrier, she has decent, 1-2 hour long naps.

Before our Ergobaby, we tried a few others too (also with Bobcat), mainly more constructed ones, but didn’t like them.

The Ergobaby can be used by infants too, thanks to the special, cushioning insert.  It is adjustable all over, and it has 3 possible carrying positions: front, back and hip. Breastfeeding is possible whilst baby is in the carrier. It has a rain/sun hood and it’s machine washable. It serves you for the years to come right from the beginning.


2.  Snuza Hero

Snuza Hero is a very uncomplicated movement (breathing) monitor for infants. After using a monitor with wired mat with Bobcat (which I never felt quite happy about, but did the job), with Babi we had to face with a new problem. She refused to sleep on her back. Some babies just don’t. (She had silent reflux.) So I had to find a monitor which I can attach to her side or to her back. Snuza Hero was a piece of mind for the first 6 months. We did have a few false alarms, because I didn’t attach Hero properly or didn’t fasten the diaper well (I’d rather not call them false alarms for this reason). These events assured me though, that Hero works. Other great features are that it’s easy to wipe down, no external power or cords attached, long battery life, clips onto cloth nappy too, easy to operate and portable. Even if the alarm doesn’t go off after the vibration effect, Hero notifies you about the incident with a red flashing light.


3.  Grobag Sleeping Bag

I used sleeping bags with my son, who absolutely hated to be swaddled. He was/is a wriggler, so he used them until recently (he’s nearly 3). We loved that he’s snug, warm and safe. So with my daughter, I didn’t even bother with swaddling. Can’t praise these enough. With the different tog ratings you are covered whatever the weather and they’re great for travel. (Especially if your little one treats them as a blankie, like mine did.)

4. Philips Avent Manual Breast Pump

I tested this pump with both children and for different purposes. Bobcat was combined fed, he never managed to latch properly. So I pumped. This pump is fast and does the job even if you use it every day. Babi is exclusively breastfed, so I only use it when having a night out and couldn’t breastfeed for more than 4 hours. Because it comes with a small bottle, I just pop it in a sterile plastic bag and take it with me. I bought a very expensive electronic double pump and other manuals too, just to realise that this pump is the best. Comes with a microwave safe box to sterilise it. It’s easy to use and the handle has a smooth movement.

5.  Winter Pramsuit From John Lewis

This is a lovely pramsuit. Lightweight and warm, works perfectly both with the carrier and the pram, adds at least 2 extra layers. Washed well, and the fluffy faux fur bits never got felt-like. Great quality and value for the money. Now that she’s bigger, we use the mittens too. I love the unisex colours too.

I’m Happy It’s School Term Again, Does This Make Me A Bad Mum?

That’s how it feelt in the last few days.

Listening to my friends how they are having emotionally tough times as their toddlers are starting in the nursery or with a child minder. Most of my friends (just like myself) are typical helicopter parents to small children. But even though I feel like I’m being overprotective and worrying excessively sometimes, I was soooo looking forward to September for him to be back to nursery. I saw some funny mummies taking first-day-back-to-school photos to the next level by posting one with a grumpy child and a happily jumping mum. And then I saw the comments too, mainly things like: “you shouldn’t have had a child if you’re so happy to get rid of him“. Or, people simply boasting about how they homeschooled five children. This made me feel guilty. (Well, not the homeschooling part, because I can’t wrap my head around that thing.) He just turned two not long ago and I’m already getting rid of him for three hours every weekday morning.

image

 

Then I remembered, Bobcat not only loves his nursery, but he started to develop his language skills a lot faster, since I wasn’t there to attentively read his mind. He had no choice but to start to communicate. It’s a lovely nursery with enthusiastic professionals and all the kids love them. (I strongly believe that nurseries are better than a one-to-one solution for being in company, copying, developing social skills, and much more.) To be honest, before him started to be more vocal I have seriously questioned my parenting skills. I’m far from being a teacher type personality and I felt I’m letting my son down. But I read books and blogs, bought special toys, did plenty of floor time, took courses to help him to speak. Then ladt year, being heavily pregnant and now with a very demanding baby I find it difficult to devide my time equally between them and my other chores. Bobcat of course, finds it hard too, not having my undivided attention like before. I felt guilty (again) thinking that I must be doing something really wrong: just can’t get things done and I need a day to consist of 36 hours at least.

That three hours for him is like being in a playgroup. He says bye mummy when I’m dropping him off and dashes off to play. But he also waits by the door and throws himself into my arms whe I collect him. He understands the routine and learned it quickly (after a week or so) that I (or daddy, or grandma) will be back in a few hours to collect him. No need for me to worry. That three hours on some days, allows me to play and enjoy some special time with Babi, catch up on some sleep, cook dinner, or just some “me-time”: looking after my blog (my only creative outlet), have a coffee sitting down, or a piece of cake without hiding in the kitchen 🙂 Because, I am a parent, I try to be the best, but I’m not a parent only. I need some time on my own too, even if it only happens when the baby is fed and asleep 🙂

I realised: no, looking forward to the nursery start does not make me a bad parent. It makes me normal. Normal, as in my dictionary: maintaining a healthy balance, providing him with quality education and fun time, respecting myself and enjoying some “me time”.

One Messy Mama

Vegan Paneer And Butternut Squash Curry

It’s so good to have a big bowl of spicy and warm comfort food on a cold winter day. Vegetarian and vegan curries can satisfy the pickiest meat eaters too. The spices do the trick. If you can’t get vegan paneer, you can substitute it for other vegan cheese, as long as it’s soft enough. Add extra chickpeas, spinach, or green peas to make it a bit different every time you prepare it. We love it, it’s one of our standard midweek meals. It’s also quite easy and quick to prepare. Takes no more than 40 minutes from scratch.

Ingredients:

225 or 250g package vegan paneer

500g butternut squash, chopped into small cubes

1 yellow onion, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, minced

handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly

2x 200g chopped tomato tins

1 tsp of fresh ginger, minced

1.5 tsp of medium curry powder

1 tsp of Garam Masala

1 tsp of turmeric

1 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of lazy chilli

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

First, cube the cheese and in a small frying pan, on a little olive oil, fry them for 10 minutes. I like them when they only start going golden brown and become crunchy on the outside but they still remain soft inside. Set them aside.

Then, add the onions to a large skillet (I sometimes just use my wok) and fry them for 5 minutes on the remaining oil. Add all the spices, and simmer for another 2-3 minutes until they become fragrant. Add the butternut squash cubes (and any other vegetables you’d like to use). Another 10 minutes simmering. Finally, add the tinned tomatoes,  salt and pepper and the coriander. Cook it for 10-15 minutes, softening the butternut squash. When it’s ready, add the paneer, gently mixing, so you won’t crush them.  Serve it with plain or jasmine rice.

 

 

 

 

Our Fave Five Linky – December

I’m back! 😃

It’s been a long time, but I have a cute, 7 months old excuse. Sorry I had to miss you for a few months, but finally it feels like I’m getting a hold of coping with two children. Total amazeballs and absolute shocker 7 months.

Anyways, December. No better way to return to my favourite linky, it was a fun and busy months.

1. Babi’s first Christmas 

And as a family of four. I really tried to keep it low-key, no present overload (though grandparents successfully sabotaged this attempt), not hosting a dinner party, no travel. Instead, family time. Playing, reading, sleeping (haha), relaxing. It mostly worked out well, we will try it again next year.

2. Our third wedding anniversary 

It’s the “leather anniversary”. Did you know that? I didn’t.

Wow. 3 years? Really? That went fast as light. My darling husband took me out to our favourite French restaurant to celebrate. No kids for a few hours.

3. Visiting the Docklands Museum

This was our first time there and we all loved it. Especially the Victorian street with little shops and the soft play. The latter is a bit shabby, but the kids seemingly didn’t care. Bobcat didn’t want to leave. It was a chilly day, otherwise a stroll around the area is a great idea too.

4. Christmas party with my local mummy friends 

It’s always good to catch up and have a girly night out. Our old NCT group is now evolved into a local mummy network, where we support each other, seek advises and make friends. Let the prosecco flow 😀

5. NYE with the kids

A friend of mine ( The Minimalist Doula ) had this amazing idea of organizing an early afternoon New Year’s party with the kids. Most of us didn’t go out anyway. So we met in a nice local pub, dressed up in disco themed clothes, the grownups had some bubbly and the kids got a big bowl of chips with orange juice. We had crafty activities, put some music on and lit the sparkles at 6pm so we all got home by bedtime. To be honest, compared to all those terrible and fun-faking New Years parties of our twenties, this was perfect, it was all what we wanted.